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Seattle University


Blessings Upon Us

Written by Mike Thee
September 28, 2011

The campus community gathers this week to invoke blessings upon Seattle University’s 2011-2012 academic year. 

The Mass of the Holy Spirit—which takes place 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 29 at the Immaculate Conception Church (18th and Marion)—is a centuries-old tradition dating back to the Middle Ages when all universities were Catholic and typically began the year with a special Mass. 

“The Mass of the Holy Spirit is the annual prayer of the university community for God’s spirit to bless our endeavors,” says Peter Ely, S.J., vice president for Mission and Ministry. “Faculty and staff of all faiths are welcome and encouraged to attend the Mass.” 

President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., will be the celebrant, and Josef Venker, chair of the Department of Fine Arts, will deliver the homily. 

So, what’s the dress code? Faculty have been encouraged to wear academic garb and join the formal procession into the church. Of course, for those not robing, all modes of dress are welcome. (In recent years a sea of red has been seen in the pews, with SU’s student-athletes wearing their Redhawk apparel.) 

The Immaculate Conception Church shares an historic relationship with Seattle University. Even before SU was known as Seattle College, the institution was called the College of the Immaculate Conception, and the Immaculate Conception parish was actually located on campus, in the Garrand Building, before moving to its current location in 1904. 

If you attended last year’s Mass, you’ll undoubtedly remember being led on a festive procession from the church to the plaza in front of the Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons. Faculty, staff and students will be encouraged to join a similar pilgrimage, which culminates with an ice cream social in the plaza. 

For Ely, the procession carries an important symbolism. “As we march from the Church to our library and learning commons, we are truly connecting our spiritual tradition with our academic tradition.” 

Just a few logistical reminders…Beginning at 10 a.m., shuttles will depart from the university seal on the lower mall at Marion. All classes are cancelled between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. If a class begins at 9 a.m., it will end at 9:30 a.m. University offices are also closed from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Robing will take place in the basement of the church. Caps and gowns should be returned to the Bookstore as soon after Mass as possible.